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The Reshaping Of Biblical Narrative In The Hellenistic Period

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reviews the book Heritage and Hellenism: The Reinvention of Jewish Tradition written by Erich Gruen. This book starts with two premises-that Judaism and Hellenism were not competing systems or incompatible concepts, and that adaptation to Hellenism did not necessarily require compromise of Jewish practices. Gruen insists that Hellenistic Judaism was a complex entity, which experienced changes over time. He argues that Jews engaged actively with Greek traditions; they adapted genres and transformed traditional legends to accord with Hellenistic modes. They recreated their past and retold biblical and extra-biblical stories not only in Greek language but also in Greek literary forms. The Jewish authors, often anonymous, thus enhanced the exploits of ancient heroes. In so doing they exhibited features generally unnoticed by previous scholars, namely a mischievous sense of humor and a pointed irony that poked fun not only at Gentiles but also at foibles of the Jews themselves.

Keywords: biblical stories; Erich S. Gruen; Gentiles; Greek traditions; Hellenism; Hellenistic Period; Heritage and Hellenism: The Reinvention of Jewish Tradition; Judaism



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